Saturday April 20, 2024

Recipe to fight war on terror

By Muhammad Hafeez
February 02, 2016

Another attack on another educational institution – terrorists graduating from school to university in just over a year. More young Shaheeds including the pride of nation, Professor Hamid Hussain put to death by the heartless assassins; the helpless parents who suffered an irreparable loss are left to face their worst nightmares. We are told that the nation is very brave and resilient; true. But these avoidable tragedies could lend collective voice to the suffering Janta which has already reached the point of bursting; with masses ready to vent out their anger against the incompetent political elite which has failed to provide the basic constitutional rights of physical and material security to the common people, let alone find solutions to the host of problems being faced by the masses.

We have not reached this point accidentally, ‘Hadsa aik dum nahi hota, waqat kerta ha perverish Barsoun’. It may therefore be unexpected for someone’, but the answer to the question,’’ How much time will it take to overcome the terrorists?’ may be rather depressing! Logic would suggest that a monstrous issue like terrorism would take nearly as much time to be addressed as it took to reach this stage. The issue has its roots in our mismanagement of affairs since the Independence. 

Firstly, large swathes of land like FATA were left without proper state control. These were used by criminals as their hideouts to perpetrate crimes like kidnappings for ransom and drug/weapon trafficking until foreign interventions helped these areas turn into perfect garrisons of the terrorists. 

Secondly, the farther an area was from the capital, governance/ development was equally if not more, lacking. This gave rise to separatist and extremist tendencies in erstwhile East Pakistan and Balochistan and some areas of Sindh and KPK. Presence of dissident elements in various segments of society provided an excellent opportunity to the external powers that aimed at destabilising Pakistan. The mushroom growth of militant organisations and use of terrorism against the people and the state of Pakistan is therefore, the manifestation of the war launched by enemies of Pakistan through proxies. Though they have not been able to break the will/ resilience of Pakistani nation as yet, through this battle they have successfully engaged Pakistan’s armed forces which are the centre of gravity of Pakistan. Present engagement level of LEAs is surely bound to adversely affect the degree of preparedness against our traditional enemy. Moreover, targeting of students by the terrorists could also prove as the last straw on camel’s back as far as the case of nation’s resilience is concerned.

While we need to find a solution to the issue of terrorism and militant organisations as early as yesterday, political masters of our country, imposed on us through a questionable/ debatable democratic system, instead of joining hands/ heads to find a solution to the ‘War on Terror’, are too busy in plundering the resources of this nation. We need to understand that we have no choice other than fighting and winning this war. And we must remember, ‘Nations go to war, armies fight battles’. Therefore, we cannot leave this war only to the armed forces; the entire nation has to join this war with full vigour.

Coming to the solution. First of all we have to understand that the main effort in this war has to be fought on the ideological front. Brightest brains of the nation should get together and work out a comprehensive strategy to defeat the terrorists’ ideology / narrative. Towards this end, efficacy of our present educational system may be evaluated as the present system is divisive in nature and further accentuates the already prevailing deep divide among various segments of the society. Introduction of a uniform / balanced education system up to the intermediate level, agreed upon by all stakeholders may help in reversing the extremist/ intolerant trends in the society. Islamic teachings regarding human rights/ respecting fellow human beings may form an essential part of the education system. 

Moreover, we as a society must accord highest respect to the teachers and focus on employing the best of the best to teach our children, as teachers are the real builders of the nation.

Secondly, we have to accept it as our war and develop a consensus to fight it with a single mind. We must shun the idea of proxy wars and negotiate with neighbouring countries to call an end to mutually destructive policies and instead focus on mutually benefitting development initiatives.

Thirdly, we have to identify and address various fault lines prevailing in our society, i.e. socio-cultural / religious undercurrents, sectarian intolerance, sub-nationalism/ linguistic issues and provincial issues. Moreover, homogeneous development across the country must be ensured. This will help create essentially required nationhood that is sadly lacking even after 68 years of independence.

Fourthly, it is widely believed that good governance can result in miracles. Writ of the government has to be established in every nook and corner of the country. Our judicial system also needs a comprehensive review so as to serve the needs of the masses including FATA – the present system has overtime become redundant –“Grandfather goes to the court and the grandson gets the decision”, is a common saying. 

Quite often, this state of affairs, forces the aggrieved to take law into one’s own hands. Moreover, state must own its people and arrange to provide comprehensive social security systems so as to ensure that the deprived youth does not land into the hands of anti-state elements. We have to protect soft targets like educational institutions; if present force is not enough, we may consider raising a new force based on retired armed forces personnel.

Fifthly, our democratic system has failed to throw up the leadership that is required to steer the country out of the troubled waters. We therefore, need to find out and adopt a system which is capable of addressing the issues faced by Pakistan.

Finally, we must take measures to build a strong national character and inculcate staunch nationalism. As a state we should conduct ourselves as a proud nation; policy of appeasement – seen too often (disagreements respected), must be shelved. We need to manage our western border – fencing may be a viable option. Planning, fighting and winning this war for the sake of our survival is our responsibility. We must stop looking towards the USA/ West, as they are pursuing their own agenda and may not be necessarily sincere to Pakistan. It must be seen that wherever USA has intervened, be it Iraq, Syria or Libya, it has acted like a ‘Bull in China Shop’. Assistance from the Western countries may therefore be considered with lot of skepticism. 

Pakistan is facing an existential threat; the enemy has launched a full scaled battle through proxies on all the fronts; political, military, economic, social/ cultural and even sports. We have no option but to fight back and fight it well for the sake of posterity. While armed forces are presently in the lead, rest of the nation has to come forward and play its due role so as to defeat the scourge of terrorism and extremist ideology.